After spending so long waiting for comeback wins, United have turned into comeback kings in recent weeks.
After recovering from losing positions to beat Chelsea and Southampton in the not to distant past, yesterday Newcastle managed to grab three points after going behind again as Papiss Cisse scored an injury time winner to defeat Stoke City at St James’ Park.
Jonathan Walters gave Stoke the lead after being felled by a rather reckless and unnecessary challenge by Cheik Tiote before Yohan Cabaye dragged the home side level with an exquisite freekick. However the glory was left until the last as Papiss Cisse smashed home from just outside the six yard box to give United a valuable three points which sees them jump to 13th in the table and extends the gap between us and 18th placed Wigan to nine points.
United had the better of the first half without really creating too much. Plenty of possession was enjoyed by the home side but they struggled to break down a solid Stoke outfit and only efforts from Yohan Cabaye and a guilt-edged chance which Yoan Gouffran skied over the bar were really worth mentioning.
Having said that, I get the feeling that Stoke were quite happy for us to have the bulk of the ball and territorial advantage. Essentially they were saying “break us down” and as the game wore on United’s attempts to do so became more desperate as the ball was just lumped into the box in the hope that Papiss Cisse could do something about it. Shackled by at least two men at all times, there wasn’t much he could do in fairness.
Into the second half and the pattern remained much the same as United found themselves unable to break down Stoke. The game had a “0-0” feel about in truth and time was starting to run out.
That “0-0” feeling turned to one of those “0-1 loss” feelings halfway through the second period as Jonathan Walters burst down the left only to be taken out by a rash sliding challenge from Cheik Tiote. No complaints from me about the award of the penalty kick which Walters duly smashed home to give Stoke a lead they barely deserved due to their sheer lack of any real attacking threat.
However just five minutes later and with 18 minutes remaining on the clock the home side were finally able to breach the Stoke defence, but it took an unstoppable freekick from Yohan Cabaye for it to happen.
Moussa Sissoko was fouled right on the edge of the penalty area which gave Cabaye a shot at goal. The wall was big and there wasn’t much to aim for, but Cabaye dinked the ball into the top-right corner of the Gallowgate net via the underside of the crossbar. That was his sixth goal of the season, all in the league, giving him a ratio of a goal every three games in the league (or 1 in 4 overall) which isn’t bad for a midfielder.
I must give a mention to Steven Taylor, who did his very best to put off Asmir Begovic in the age of time it took between the award and eventual taking of the freekick. He mirrored Begovic’s every move and tried his best to put the ‘keeper off. I’m not sure it had much of an impact but it was amusing to watch at least.
With the score at 1-1 and with time running out I hoped United would have turned the screw in the search for the winner, but it just didn’t happen. Sylvain Marveaux tried his best to create something but Stoke were equal to what we could offer in attack and the game looked destined to end as a draw.
That was until deep into stoppage time when Adam Campbell fed Marveaux who slotted a clever ball through to an unmarked and onside Papiss Cisse who fired past Begovic sending the home fans into raptures.
It was an important win for us although I’m yet to be convinced that we’re truly out of the relegation scrap it does at least give us some breathing space. If we keep on picking up wins, however ugly, then we’ll soon be out of it properly. We can give ourselves another few inches of breathing space by beating an in-form Wigan next weekend.
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Rob Elliot; Mathieu Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Davide Santon; Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote; Jonas Gutierrez, Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran; Papiss Cisse
Subs: Steve Harper, Massadio Haidara, James Perch, Vurnon Anita, Gabriel Obertan, Sylvain Marveaux, Adam Campbell
Stoke: Asmir Begovic; Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Andy Wilkinson; Ryan Shotton, Glenn Whelan, Steven Nzonzi, Jonathan Walters; Cameron Jerome, Peter Crouch
Subs: Thomas Sorenson, Brek Shea, Charlie Adam, Dean Whitehead, Michael Kightly, Kenwyne Jones, Michael Owen